Tag Archives: Sergey Ivanov

Shoygu’s Inherited Dilemmas

Shoygu and Serdyukov

Shoygu and Serdyukov

Before Russia’s holiday topor fully enshrouded military commentators, Gazeta’s Sergey Smirnov published an interesting piece on the situation in which Defense Minister Shoygu finds himself.  There isn’t a lot of great comment on Shoygu yet, but it might be cranking up.  Smirnov looks at how the popular Shoygu could mar his well-regarded career while tackling the same accumulated military structural problems that faced his predecessor.  He writes about possible bureaucratic and personal conflicts with Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Chemezov, and Dmitriy Rogozin.

Leftover Problem One:  Contract Service

According to Smirnov, Russia’s military added virtually no contractees in 2012, but still has to recruit 50,000 of them every year until 2017 to reach its assigned target of 425,000.  The obstacles are the same.  Eighty percent of them don’t sign a second contract because the army doesn’t offer living conditions more attractive than barracks.  Undermanning is a related problem.  Smirnov says the military’s manpower is certainly below 800,000.  And Shoygu may have to acknowledge this problem.

Leftover Problem Two:  Bureaucratic Competitors

Smirnov describes Serdyukov’s conflict with Rogozin over the OPK and its production for the military.  He claims the “Petersburg group” of Sergey Ivanov, Chemezov, and Viktor Ivanov wanted one of its guys to take Serdyukov’s place at the Defense Ministry.  But Putin didn’t want to strengthen them, so he took the neutral figure Shoygu.

According to Smirnov, Serdyukov wanted out, and wanted to head a new arms exporting corporation to replace Rosoboroneksport.  That, of course, conflicted directly with Chemezov and the interests of the “Petersburgers.”  And Smirnov makes the interesting comment:

“But that appointment [Serdyukov to head a new arms exporter] didn’t happen precisely because of the big criminal cases which arose not by accident.”

Was Serdyukov done in for overreaching rather than for corruption scandals in the Defense Ministry?

Shoygu, writes Smirnov, was not thrilled at the prospect of continuing the “not very popular” army reforms.  Smirnov is left at the same point as everyone else:  will it be a “serious revision” of Serdyukov’s reforms or a “course correction?”

There’s lots of talk to indicate the former rather than the latter.  The new VVS CINC has bloviated about returning to one regiment per airfield instead of large, consolidated air bases.  He claims the Krasnodar, Syzran, and Chelyabinsk Aviation Schools will be reestablished.  He babbles about going to a three-service structure and retaking VVKO.  Shoygu will allow Suvorov and Nakhimov cadets to march in the May 9 Victory Parade.  He stopped the Military-Medical Academy’s move out of the center of Piter.  Other commonly mentioned possible revisions are returning to six MDs and transferring the Main Navy Staff back to Moscow.

Leftover Problem Three:  Outsourcing

Serdyukov’s outsourcing policy led to scandals, and didn’t work for the Russian military’s remote bases.  Gazeta’s Defense Ministry sources say the structure and activity of Oboronservis will likely be greatly modified or, less likely, Oboronservis will be completely disbanded if some workable entity can take its place.

Leftover Problem Four:  Military Towns

The military wants municipal authorities to take over the vast majority (70-90 percent) of a huge number of old military towns (that once numbered 23,000) no longer needed by Armed Forces units.  The army only wants some 200 of them now.

The local government wants the military to provide compensation to restore and support these towns, but the latter doesn’t have the funds.  The army is laying out billions of rubles in the next three years, but only to outfit 100 military towns it wants to use.  There is also the problem of who gets, or has the power to give away, legal title to this military property.

Leftover Problem Five:  Officer Housing

Shoygu, says Smirnov, has to solve the unresolved problem of officer housing, especially for officers “left at disposition” of their commanders (i.e. not retired but lacking duty posts and apartments).  The Defense Ministry still doesn’t know how many need housing.  Smirnov writes:

“Despite the fact that the military department daily reports on the handover of apartments, the line of officers retired from the army who are awaiting receipt of living space is not becoming smaller.  At present from 80 to 150 [thousand] former officers are awaiting the presentation of housing.”

More than enough lingering headaches for one Defense Minister.

It’s 60-40 for Serdyukov

Serdyukov and Ivanov (photo: Komsomolskaya pravda)

After a couple months and 50 votes, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov got past his predecessor Sergey Ivanov by a margin of 30 votes to 20 for the title of better defense minister.

It was interesting.  Serdyukov (your author’s choice) jumped out to a big lead, and Ivanov spent the rest of the time trying hard to catch up, but never quite making it.  Every time Ivanov started to, Serdyukov supporters came out and boosted his numbers.

It was surprising though.  Your author thought Serdyukov would crush Ivanov.

Of course, none of this was scientific.  And it was a fallacious comparison.  The men arrived in different circumstances and experienced different situations.

For this author’s money, though, Serdyukov has done a much better job with the hand he was dealt.  Primarily because he’s actually done some things.  And he broke the uniformed military’s grip on defense policymaking.  Granted, the results haven’t been exactly perfect.  And, over time, views of Serdyukov will be influenced by what comes after him.  But 60 percent in this little poll isn’t a bad showing for a guy who encountered and tamed a lot of resistance along the way.

Ivanov, by contrast, was timid, tentative, and generally ineffective, in this writer’s view.  To be fair, he held less favorable cards by comparison, especially early on.

It may possible, of course, that the 20 votes for Ivanov are anti-Serdyukov votes rather than pro-Ivanov.

If you voted and would like to comment about your thinking either way, others would be interested to read it.

Unlikely Sacrifice

Writing in Moskovskiy komsomolets, Mikhail Rostovskiy examines the possibility that the government might be shaken up, or ministers turned into political human sacrifices in the runup to the December 4 Duma election.

We’ve been on this topic before when Aleksey Makarkin tiptoed around it, examining only the possibility that Defense Minister Serdyukov or Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova might be sacrificed to appease angry Russian voters.

About Serdyukov’s chances, Rostovskiy writes:

“Victim No. 4.  They say that Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov is not liked very much by his subordinates.  On the other hand, they value him very much up above.  Here they believe that Serdyukov is achieving what his predecessor Sergey Ivanov couldn’t manage.  They say, for example, that under the current minister the real battle to introduce elementary administrative and financial order in the army began.  Therefore I would rate Anatoliy Serdyukov’s chances of surviving a ritual ministerial sacrifice as high.”

Is Serdyukov better than Ivanov?  Vote here.

Just to round it out, here’s Rostovskiy’s full list, from most to least likely to be sacrificed:

  1. Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko
  2. Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova
  3. Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin
  4. Minister of Defense Anatoliy Serdyukov
  5. Minister of Sports Vitaliy Mutko
  6. Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev
  7. Minister of Finance Aleksey Kudrin

What issues have brought Serdyukov political heat?

Most recently, the prime minister and government — Deputy PM, VPK Chairman, and Serdyukov predecessor Sergey Ivanov in particular — really want to tag the current defense minister with the GOZ-2011 mess.

The dustup between Serdyukov and the commander of the VDV training center at Seltsy last fall became a political faux pas for Anatoliy Eduardovich.

Last summer’s fires around military bases, and seemingly perpetual ammo dump explosions were and are weak points for the defense minister.

The bottom line is Serdyukov was always and remains part of Team Putin.  He’ll see his fifth anniversary on the job early next year.  What happens to him after the presidential election depends (obviously) on the outcome of the election.  But he will probably find himself with a bigger, better, possibly somewhat less troublesome portfolio.

Latest on GOZ Woes (Part II)

To review this week . . . Prime Minister Putin’s current deadline for completing GOZ contracts is August 31, but it’s unlikely to be met, even by loyal Deputy PM and OSK Board Chairman Igor Sechin.  Deputy Finance Minister Siluanov said Defense Ministry contracts are being made on credits and government-backed financing rather than cash.  Putin said the price tag for GOZ-2011 is 750 billion rubles, but 30 percent of projected procurement still isn’t covered by contracts as the final third of the year begins.

How did the government, Defense Ministry, and OPK arrive at an August 31 deadline that’s unlikely to be met?

The latest round of this year’s GOZ woes started in early July when MIT General Designer Yuriy Solomonov told Kommersant that GOZ-2011 was already broken, and Russia’s strategic missile inventory is not being renewed as necessary.  He said there’s no contract for the RS-24 / Yars ICBM, and the late arrival of money makes it impossible to salvage 2011.

President Dmitriy Medvedev responded by calling Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov on the carpet.  According to RIA Novosti, he told him:

“Sort out the situation.  If there’s information that the state defense order is broken, it’s true, organizational conclusions are needed in connection with those who are responsible for this, regardless of position or rank.”

“If the situation is otherwise, we need to look into those who are sowing panic.  You know how according to law in wartime they dealt with panickers — they shot them.  I’m allowing you to dismiss them, do you hear me?”

RIA Novosti reported Serdyukov’s opinion on the “wild growth” in the price of military products, especially from MIT and Sevmash.  He said MIT is asking 3.9 billion and 5.6 billion rubles respectively for Topol-M and Yars ICBMs.  Serdyukov put GOZ-2011 at 581 billion rubles [different from Putin's figure!], and added that only 108 billion, or 18.5 percent, was not yet under contract.  He said everything would be done in 10 days.

At virtually the same time, Deputy PM and VPK Chairman, Sergey Ivanov told ITAR-TASS 230 billion rubles were not yet contracted out.  OSK piled on Serdyukov, claiming contracts for 40 percent of the Navy’s share of the GOZ weren’t finalized.

In late July, it looked like Northern Wharf (which reportedly produces 75 percent of Russia’s surface ships, and is not part of OSK) might be made into an example for other “GOZ breakers.”  While prosecutors talked vaguely about the misuse of GOZ money, the shipbuilder’s representatives apparently mounted a vigorous defense, asserting that the enterprise has been right on time, even though it’s underfinanced by the Defense Ministry.

Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy said prosecutors uncovered 1,500 GOZ-related legal violations during the preceding 18 months.  He indicated there were 30 criminal convictions, and state losses amounted to millions of rubles in these cases.  The most egregious example  was the theft of over 260 million rubles given to OSK’s Zvezdochka shipyard to repair Kirov-class CGN Petr Velikiy.  Fridinskiy indicated the enterprise director and his close associates apparently had 40 million of the money in their own names.  Recall Fridinskiy earlier said 20 percent of defense procurement funding is stolen.

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Defense Minister Serdyukov claimed he was on the verge of signing contracts with MIT for Topol-M and Yars production.  Once again, he said all contracting would be finished in two weeks.

In mid-August, OSK enterprises Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Zvezdochka said they would soon be forced to cease work unless the Defense Ministry signed contracts with them.  Putin, Sechin, and Serdyukov met and launched a special interdepartmental commission to set prices for the Navy’s remaining 40 billion rubles in GOZ contracts.  And, according to Kommersant, everyone was once again reassured that all contracts would be completed in two weeks.

And it’s not just all ICBMs, ships, and submarines . . . Kommersant wrote that the Defense Ministry eschewed contracts for 24 or more MiG-29K and more than 60 Yak-130 trainers at MAKS-2011.

So what does the mid-year GOZ picture look like? 

The president and prime minister have fumed and set a series of deadlines, not met thus far.  And the defense minister and deputy prime ministers have assured them they would meet each deadline in turn. 

More interesting, and somewhat unnoticed, is the fact that the prime minister and defense minister (among others) seem to be consistently working from different sets of numbers on the size of the GOZ, and how much has been placed under contract.  The GOZ hasn’t captured this kind of leadership attention at any time in the past 20 years.

Producers are being honest when they say late state contracts mean they can’t do anything (or at least what the Defense Ministry wants them to) in what remains of the year.

Picking up the pieces of GOZ-2011, and trying to put GOZ-2012 on a better footing will occupy the rest of this year.

Lost in everything is what will the Russian military get eventually by way of new hardware, and when will they get it?  And how good will it be?

A Third S-400 Regiment

According to Interfaks, Air Forces Deputy CINC, General-Major Viktor Bondarev told journalists yesterday that another air defense regiment will be reequipped with the S-400 this fall. 

He didn’t mention a deployment location, or exactly when the regiment would go on combat duty.  This would be Russia’s third operational S-400 regiment.

The second regiment reportedly started combat duty on 15 May at Dmitrov, north of Moscow.

The first two regiments have four battalions between them, each battalion with 8 or more launchers.

In 2010, the Defense Ministry said it was buying 5 battalions of S-400s.  This seems to make sense with two battalions entering service in the first half of 2011, and two more possibly in the second half.  The first two S-400 battalions – at Elektrostal – were likely bought in 2006-2007. 

The plan is to buy 56 battalions worth of S-400s under GPV-2020.

It’s interesting to note that the previous, abandoned GPV-2015 (designed by Defense Minister, then Deputy Prime Minister, Sergey Ivanov) called for  acquiring 23 S-400 battalions by 2015.  The press often reports these 23 battalions as a pared-down 18, but the original goal was in fact 23.

So who’s really responsible for breaking the GPV (and GOZ)?

Popovkin to Roskosmos?

Vladimir Popovkin (photo: Sobakidendy-news.ru)

Friday Marker.ru reported rumors from its sources saying First Deputy Defense Minister, and GPV 2011-2020 architect, Vladimir Popovkin will relieve Anatoliy Perminov as Director of Roskosmos.  This is interesting because it supposedly features a little tandem tension between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

Marker.ru’s Ivan Cheberko writes that Perminov will resign at “his own request,” and become a presidential adviser for space issues.  For his part, Popovkin had hoped to replace Sergey Ivanov as Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for the defense-industrial sector.  But Medvedev and Putin couldn’t agree on Ivanov’s fate, according to Cheberko’s report, and they proposed that Popovkin should head Roskosmos.

A source close to Perminov told Cheberko the Popovkin decision was made last week:

“The president and prime minister couldn’t determine Ivanov’s future, and they proposed Popovkin to head Roskosmos.  The Defense Minister has already signed the corresponding paperwork.”

Cheberko’s two independent missile-space sector sources say there have been three candidates for the Roskosmos job — Popovkin, Popovkin ally and deputy General-Lieutenant Oleg Frolov, and Roskosmos Deputy Director Vitaliy Davydov.  Frolov reportedly would have gotten the job if Popovkin took Ivanov’s spot.  Roskosmos rank-and-file lobbied for Davydov in hopes of avoiding changes Popovkin would make.  His views diverge from those of the agency’s current leadership, and he’s expected to make many personnel and organizational changes.  Among other things, Cheberko highlights Popovkin’s strong support for a new liquid-fueled heavy ICBM versus missile designer Yuriy Solomonov’s vocal public opposition to such a plan.

Unfortunately, Mr. Cheberko only dug so deep.  There’s a bit more to this story.

On the eve of the 18 March expanded collegium, Sergey Ivanov told the Federation Council the Defense Ministry was to blame for late placement of the State Defense Order (Гособоронзаказ, ГОЗ, or GOZ) this year.  Even prior, he had lots of sharp public criticism for Perminov, Roskosmos, and their failures.  Of course, Ivanov himself has long suffered at Putin’s hands over GLONASS, so he’s just letting stuff roll downhill, so to speak.

In his collegium speech, President Medvedev railed about problems with the GOZ last year, and demanded a “post-flight debriefing” to identify which industry and state officials are to blame.

Prime Minister Putin followed the collegium with a March 21 government session on the defense order at the Votkinsk missile plant.  Ivanov and Perminov were there, and probably Popovkin too.  The latter was very much on the defensive afterwards, asserting that GOZ-2010 was fulfilled “on the whole.”  And he blamed last summer’s heat wave and forest fires for disrupting defense production.

So where’s it leave us?

As Marker.ru implies, it appears Popovkin’s position isn’t too strong, and he could be headed out of the Defense Ministry after only 8 months on the job.  This would take away one of the louder proponents of buying arms and equipment abroad if necessary.  It begs the question who replaces Popovkin, and what does it mean.  Possibly someone closer to Serdyukov.  Never known for his skill as a political infighter, Sergey Ivanov actually comes out of this looking like a semi-adept bureaucratic warrior.  It’s interesting to imagine Medvedev and Putin discussing Ivanov’s fate when he was once thought the frontrunner in Operation Successor 2008.

Nikolskiy on GOZ-2010 Failures

On Tuesday, Vedomosti’s Aleksey Nikolskiy wrote about breakdowns in last year’s State Defense Order (GOZ).  He notes that concern about failures started with Roskosmos, but it isn’t limited to that part of the defense sector.

Nikolskiy recounts Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov’s session with the Roskosmos collegium.  The space industry only produced five of 11 satellites specified in GOZ-2010, and 6 civilian launches were postponed.  The three GLONASS satellites lost to a “childish mistake” [in filling the rocket's tanks] cost 2.5 billion rubles.  But we’ll return to Russia’s space woes another day. 

A Defense Ministry source tells Nikolskiy GOZ failures are constant. 

Bulava SLBM delays kept Yuriy Dolgorukiy from entering service [remember the new SSBN itself had to return to Sevmash for work while it awaits the next Bulava test].  Introduction of the new Severodvinsk SSN has been put off until much later because of construction defects.  A United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) source tells Nikolskiy the Defense Ministry has stopped financing completion of a proyekt 677 diesel-electric sub, and work on two others laid down at Admiralty Wharves is in question.

Nikolskiy says the Air Forces’ assimilation of Yak-130 trainers is delayed by last March’s crash.  And there’s a serious delay in the testing of the Su-35 fighter, according to a Defense Ministry officer [Sukhoy was reportedly testing two Su-35s last August].  One enterprise manager claims reforms in the Defense Ministry purchasing system are holding back contracting for aircraft deliveries this year. 

CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko says government and Defense Ministry criticism of industry for its GOZ failures could be followed by personnel changes.  In Roskosmos’ case, the situation is almost “overripe.”  But Makiyenko defends other Russian arms producers by noting that delivery delays are common even for U.S. and European manufacturers.